The pressure upon us this time of year as parents can be overwhelming. To surpass our kid’s expectations of magic, presents and endless fun can feel a little ominous at times.
Especially if you’re a mum, dad or guardian that can’t afford everything your child’s friends parents might be able to. The competition to have the best, do the best and take them to the best places is a heavy pressure, particularly when our feeds are adorned with perfect Christmas displays, lavish gifts, decorating gingerbread houses and baking homemade cookies.
However, despite all of these ideals there is a lot we can do that costs little or nothing to still bring that Christmas magic to life. Don’t be jealous or feel inferior to people you might deem perfect parents, after all it’s not their fault that you don’t have the same means or enthusiasm as them, and the likelihood is, their perfect pics aren’t even their whole truth.
So they got their kids Christmas Eve boxes bigger than your Christmas Day pile, it’s not a competition. Parenting is never a competition. What I’ve found this year from being in lockdown and then going straight into tier 3 is that, all of the Santa visits, pantomimes and festivities are missed, but also that they’re not essential in making Christmas magical.
I’ve written a few ideas including things we’ve done and things you can do this Christmas that costs little or no money, but still brings that festive feeling into your home and hopefully your hearts.
1. Our first and favourite thing to do at this time of year is to go and hunt for Christmas light displays. I don’t mean paying £30 each to head to Longleat’s festival of light (though it is fab) I just mean heading out into to your local streets and spotting Christmas lights around your neighbourhood. This year has been full of Christmas cheer and many houses put on light displays to raise money for charity which is amazing and gives you a goodwill feeling to boot. It doesn’t have to cost you much as little as you can afford. We don’t just go on evening walks either, we go out in the day and do Christmas scavenger hunts, searching in nearby driveways for Christmas decor and ticking them off as we go. Yesterday we found two Santa burgers trying to climb through closed windows and a snowman missing a hat. Then afterwards we head home for a well deserved Christmas hot chocolate.
2. Elf on the shelf. I know there will be parents reading this and wishing that little brat of an elf had never been invented, but there are so many ways he can bring magic to your home that don’t have to cost anything other than the cost of your elf to begin with and 5 minutes a night. Get him playing with your child’s toys and tucked up in bed inside their dolls house, I guarantee you’ll bring smiles to little faces for not that much effort. And if like me you forget every now and then, just tell them you slept in the room the elf is in, and whilst there’s grown ups in the Elf’s work space, he can’t do his job.
3. Christmas crafts. Make a Christmas decoration out of old toilet rolls and wrapping paper scraps. Make your own nativity scene out of discarded Amazon boxes (I have an abundance of these) get some pritt stick and a pair of scissors and make snowflakes. Your kids will love it and though you might hate the mess (I know I do) it will keep them quiet for hours. Christmas stickers are another fav of ours and you can get 100’s in Poundland for a single nugget.
4. This one is probably a little obvious but watch ALL the Xmas movies. To make it that little more fun do it inside blanket forts and snuggle down with more hot chocolate or Christmas cookies. Simple, practically free, and memories your kids will cherish for a lifetime.
5. Dress up in Christmas jumpers and dance to Christmas songs. This is my favourite, it’s not as long as some of the other ideas, because I’m usually out of breath and exhausted after 10 minutes but it’s so much fun and the kids will, without a doubt love every second. Turn down the lights and turn up the ones on the tree.
6. Another thing that I have done this year is I’ve curated all our elf on the shelf pics ready to print off and stick in a scrap book for Ciara to do Christmas Eve. Whilst I’m drinking Mulled wine and watching Elf, she can be creating her own elf memory book that we’ll hopefully get out every Christmas and add to it as the years go on.
Christmas for us is about making memories. Before kids I would get so wrecked on Christmas Eve I could barely stomach my dinner, falling asleep shortly after consumption on mum’s sofa. Now it’s all about the kids, but I realise that I’m getting more from it too. Ok so Christmas Eve day drinking benders are obsolete now, which is somewhat of a shame because Shaun and I met on one of those and we used to like recreating the magic every year, but it’s that much more magical with Ciara in tow. Last year we did about 4 Santa’s grotto visits, we went to a pantomime on Christmas Eve and we spent about £300 in total on all of that before we’d even considered presents. For most of us, that’s not an option this year with Covid restrictions, and even if it was our funds probably won’t allow for the same kind of expenditure. However, we’ve still managed to capture fairytale moments along the way and I know they’ll be just as talked about and cherished as memories. I know we can all get a bit bogged down by Christmas. I personally find it all a bit of a sensory overload to be honest, usually burning myself out by the time the big day arrives. But this year, we have the gift of time and a slower pace. I plan to make the most of that.